Poignant event may be last for many old soldiers

Professional photographer Sabina Lorkin has covered several of the D-Day commemoration events in Normandy but fears this will be the last where veterans will take part.

1 May 2019
By Sheenagh Harrington

She has been involved for five years and said: “Every single D-Day photography project is a privilege to do and either gives me goose pimples or brings a tear to my eye at some point as I photograph.

“It is an honour to capture returning veterans and often to be lucky enough to hear their D-Day stories first-hand.” 

She first got involved after being contacted by a US band for the 70th anniversary ceremonies.

“Their conductor, Colonel Arnald D Gabriel of the US Air Force, was a D-Day veteran and was returning to Normandy for the first time since 1944,” she said. “I was asked to capture the event at the International Memorial at Omaha Beach.”

This year, from June 6-8, she will be working with a Texan brass band as they take part in ceremonies at the American cemeteries in Brittany and Normandy, as well as in a parade in Sainte-Mère-Eglise.

“It plays a large part in D-Day commemorations as it was the first French town liberated by the Allies.”

Mrs Lorkin said two of her children featured in a poster campaign for Normandie Tourisme. “They were lucky enough to meet several Surrey Normandy veterans and hear them share their stories as they pointed along the coast and said ‘I landed over there and climbed up that cliff’.”

Flashback to 2015, at a ceremony in Sainte Mère Église

She has her own memories of the men she has met and the events they witnessed, but said one story stood out:

“I was photographing a veteran, gunner AW Glover, as he tried to lay a wreath in the sea at the beach in Arromanches. As the tide was coming in, the wreath kept being knocked back on to the sand.

“A Dutch soldier, who was there rehearsing for the D-Day ceremony the following day, saw what was happening and offered to help.

“He picked up the wreath and walked – in full uniform – into the sea up to his knees and gently placed the wreath on the water, where it floated away.”

The poignancy of the ceremonies grows each year as the number of surviving veterans dwindles. “I wonder whether it will be the last year I have to capture these amazing veterans and hear their tales.

“It’s so important their voices are heard and stories of heroism noted to help future generations understand the sacrifices made all those years ago for world peace.

“I hope that my work can play a tiny part in helping achieve that.”

See also:

Parachute drop is highlight of series of events

Armentières still remembered by D-Day hero

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